Many Praguers pass by the Masaryk Railway Station building every day, and they frequently take the train from there. Visiting "Masaryčka" as part of the popular annual Open House Prague festival therefore may not sound all that exciting, but we promise it really is...
You'll have the opportunity to see a lounge with a beamed ceiling and a magnificent fireplace that was built in the 1970s for Francis Joseph I and later adapted to the needs of T. G. Masaryk, who used to travel from there by his saloon car.
Recently, the oldest railway station in historical Prague has been mentioned mainly in connection with its revitalization. Commercial and administrative development according to the design of the world architect Zaha Hadid is planned on the vacated plots of land. Penta Investments has already invested 200 million crowns in the reconstruction over the last five years.
Visible parts of the reconstruction
“The part visible to everyone is the completely renovated arrival hall. Its roofing was a tough nut to crack, part of it had to be made identical, and so did the cast iron columns holding the roof structure. There are new toilets; cash registers have been relocated to the place where they originally stood. All areas reserved for shops have been newly renovated. We are also preparing the opening of a restaurant on the site of the former casino, which will take the guests back to the period of the First Republic, and not only through its design,"
Penta's spokesman Ivo Mravinac told LP-life.com, adding that the restaurant will be newly accessible not only from the arrival hall of the railway station, but also from Na Florenci street. A shopping arcade, a luggage storage and a waiting room are also being prepared under the supervision of conservationists.
Unattractive and invisible parts of the reconstruction
Naturally, the technological background is also undergoing reconstruction.
"Some parts are not visible to the average visitor and they're not particularly attractive either. These include, for example, technologies that are hidden under the floor, or this large transformer station that used to stand next to the train station and had to be moved to the cellar under the station,"
says Mravinac, noting that the latter was a great adventure, because everything had to click with split-second accuracy, because the station also powers the security systems.
Hadid fought to preserve the station
The famous architect is not involved in the current reconstruction period and she has nothing to do with it.
"There's only one aspect in which we can consider Zaza. During the elaboration of the urban study on the Masaryk Railway Station brownfield, he considered the place itself to be a historical gem, which will be in contrast to the buildings that she designed along the track right by the railway station. And in the place where the buildings stand next to each other, she had to consider Masaryk railway station. But we can only guess, because it's not possible to go and ask this icon of world architecture today..."
concludes Ivo Mravinac.
During the Open House Prague festival, on the weekend of September 5 and 6, more than seventy normally inaccessible buildings and premises in 10 city districts will be open to the public free of charge.